Last week we saw what a debate should be like. Two clearly different candidates going point-by-point on issues with real back-and-forth movement in the conversation. So kudos to our moderator (though I personally think she let Ryan go on and interrupted Biden too often). Definitely a highlight in political discourse since the last debate.
So while all the pundits will focus on jobs, the answers for foreign policy were quite strange.
Here are the two things that made Ryan seem weaker in the foreign policy part of the debate (and they are closely related to his failings on domestic policy, too): 1. no specifics, 2. a shallow understanding of history.
So the first is self-explanatory: Ryan was quick to say things that amount to “shoulda-woulda-coulda” but nothing else. At times where he said the candidates agreed, like in Afghanistan and Libya, he completely contradicted what his ticket was saying earlier.
The shallow understanding of history (aside from the lack of understanding on foreign affairs in general, which we will get to next) is particularly unnerving because it falls under two categories: as Jon Stewart would say, it’s either team stupid or team, I’m going to say, “misleading.”
Ryan, curiously, brought up the Green Movement under Carter in Iran, and the U.S. support of Assad and Mubarak. Now it could be that he doesn’t know much history, but the phrasing of the problems (especially his assertion that President Obama supported both Mubarak and Assad) make it seem like Obama was the only president to hold this view.
In reality, the U.S. has never shied away from supporting unpopular dictators: Mubarak, Assad, Batista, etc. and that this trend specifically with Mubarak was practiced by both Republican and Democrat presidents.
Again, this is where the possible interpretation of “misleading” can come from.
By far, though, the biggest problem was the idea that peace or safety can be attained by strength or what is commonly referred to as bullying. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it bullying during the Cold War that led to these strange pockets of hatred towards the U.S.?
I mean, who armed the Taliban? Or the Shah? Or really any group that now hates the U.S.? And the spiel Ryan gave about how the Ayatollah thinks was jingoistic at best and downright idiotic at worst. Oh yes, that’s the hierarchy.
Sorry, Ryan but when it comes to foreign policy, Mr. “Duress” knows it better.